Phoenix Suns season preview
This preview originally appeared in our 2023-24 VSiN NBA Betting Guide, which was released on Thursday, October 5. To become a VSiN Pro subscriber and get all of our NBA coverage throughout the season, click here.
Suns Betting Odds
NBA Finals: +650
Win Total: 51.5
Playoffs: Yes (-900)
The trio of Bradley Beal, Kevin Durant and Devin Booker make Phoenix one of the highest-rated teams in the NBA, but in acquiring Beal back in June, the Suns sacrificed nearly their entire roster. Phoenix did well to fill the roster with personnel that fit well around its star trio, but depth is a real question for a team with the third-best odds to win the NBA Finals.
There are those who would argue that depth does not matter in the postseason, but they would be wrong. It also ignores the fact that depth is greatly needed in the regular season, especially when your team is built around players who have a history of missing time.
Beal has played in only 55% of a possible 164 games the last two seasons, and Durant has played in just 58% of contests since returning from his Achilles injury. Booker has had a sturdier health history, but he missed 29 games last season due to a groin injury. If either Beal or Durant misses time, Booker will need to stay healthy, and those depth pieces will need to play bigger roles throughout the regular season, which could lead to a subpar record by betting market standards.
Eric Gordon is a career 37.1% shooter who can defend perimeter scorers, which is something this team will need. Yuta Watanabe is coming off a career-best 44.4% shooting season for Brooklyn, and he has shown in limited minutes that he can be an effective rebounder. Keita Bates-Diop is a well-rounded forward who does a bit of everything on offense from cut, attack off the bounce and run well in transition.
Bettors should factor in the return of Josh Okogie – who posted a career-high in efficiency differential (+4.0) last season – and Damion Lee as well. Lee is an above-average shooter at his position, and the defense statistically improved when he was on the floor.
As far as the core of Durant, Booker and Beal is concerned? It should be very good when they play together.
When Durant and Booker were on the floor together last season the Suns had a +18.4 net rating and averaged 124.7 points per 100 possessions. Now that Beal is in the mix, this offense has the potential to be even better.
Beal is an incredible mid-range scorer who shot 48.9% on 414 mid-range attempts last season. He joins an offense that took 39.1% of its attempts from that area of the floor when the two best players were on. There should be no worry about there being “only one ball to go around” with this offense.
There could be a worry about Beal’s production though. As previously mentioned, his availability has been a question. He also regressed to being a statistical negative on defense. Last season the Wizards allowed 1.2 more points per 100 possessions with him on the floor, and he placed in the fifth and eighth percentile respectively in that category in the two seasons from 2019-2021.
Phoenix fixed its issue at center as well with the acquisition of Jusuf Nurkic in the three-team deal that sent Damian Lillard to Milwaukee. Nurkic is a downgrade at center when it comes to athleticism and defense, but there is an upgrade in moving on from a disgruntled player like Ayton. They also added more depth with the additions of Nassir Little and Keon Johnson.
Overall, the Suns are going to be an incredible offensive team this season now that three incredible scorers share the floor. They should also be better defensively than most think. Beal was a positive defender in his early career, Durant is a good defender, and they can roll out defenders like Okogie and Gordon which should make them competitive on that end of the floor. They should be an above-average team on defense this season.
Phoenix will be one of the highest-rated teams by the betting market this season, and the betting public will likely pile onto that rating with nightly action. That would lead one to believe that the Suns are likely going to be a tough team to back ATS throughout the season.
In the eight regular season games Durant and Booker played together Phoenix was 8-0 SU/6-2 ATS. But that is a small sample size, and in the postseason they were 6-5 SU/4-7 ATS. In the series Phoenix won in five games over Los Angeles, it was 2-3 ATS. They were favored before the series with the Nuggets began. This overvalued nature will likely carry over into this regular season, especially in games where all three of their stars play.
Win Total Analysis
The Suns have the fourth-highest win total on the board at DraftKings; 54.5 shaded to the over by 20 cents. It is a win total that is attainable should their trio of stars stay healthy in the regular season, but that is not guaranteed for Beal or Durant. Should neither miss extended time, this team could take advantage of a favorable schedule.
Positive Residual has the Suns’ schedule ranked ninth easiest in the NBA. They have 10 rest advantages on the schedule to nine disadvantages, and six of those disadvantage spots will be at home. For a team built to have regular season success, this is an opportunity to go over the win total.
It’s obviously hard to project time missed, but if it is only one of Durant or Beal at a time, this team can win a lot of games. Booker deserves more credibility for availability than given by the masses. Should he be able to play about 68 games like he averaged the three seasons prior to last, then this team will be at the top of the standings.
With all of that factored in, this is a win total that comes up as somewhat short. My personal win total for Phoenix came out to be 53.4 wins, meaning there is a small edge on expecting 52 or more wins from the Suns this season.
Win Total Recommendation: OVER 51.5